Lisa Anderson Headshot

Lisa Anderson

James T. Shotwell Professor Emerita of International Relations

Personal Details

Lisa Anderson is Special Lecturer and James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations Emerita at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Dr. Anderson served as President of the American University in Cairo for five years, from 2011-2016. Prior to her appointment as President, she was the University’s provost, a position she had assumed in 2008.  She is Dean Emerita of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia, where she led the school from 1997-2007. She was on the faculty of Columbia since 1986; prior to her appointment as Dean, she served as Chair of the Political Science Department and Director of Columbia's Middle East Institute. She has also taught at Princeton and Harvard Universities. 

Dr. Anderson’s scholarly research has included work on state formation in the Middle East and North Africa; on regime change and democratization in developing countries; and on social science, academic research and public policy both in the United States and around the world. Among her books are The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980 (1986) and Pursuing Truth, Exercising Power: Social Science and Public Policy in the Twenty-first Century (2003); she has also published numerous scholarly articles.

Dr. Anderson is a trustee of the Aga Khan University, Tufts University and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. She is a member emerita of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch, served as elected President of the Middle East Studies Association, and as Chair of the Board of the Social Science Research Council.  A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations, she has received honorary degrees from Monmouth University and the American University in Paris.


  • PhD in Political Science, Columbia University
  • MA in Law and Diplomacy, Fletcher School at Tufts University
  • BA, Sarah Lawrence College


  • President of the American University in Cairo

In The Media

Lisa Anderson shared her incisive analysis of the higher education landscape in the Middle East, including the newer education models of the Gulf region.

Feb 06 2024
The Peninsula
Geopolitical Stability

The School of International and Public Affairs hosted a panel addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the second in a series of “Rapid Response Webinars” from the Institute of Global Politics.

Oct 20 2023
Columbia Spectator
Geopolitical Stability

SIPA convened an expert panel to discuss the unfolding humanitarian situation in Gaza, the reaction and role of Israel’s Arab neighbors, and more.

Oct 19 2023
Institute of Global Politics

After a government proposal to overhaul Israel’s judiciary led to unrest and mass protests, SIPA held a rapid-response webinar at which leading experts provided analysis.

Mar 31 2023

"Over the last seventy-five years, the endlessly shifting coalitions on the chessboard of Arab regional politics seem to have played by the same rules of the game. Yet, as private interests have become a major source of political power, there have been major changes in the powers and purposes of the players," the former SIPA dean Lisa Anderson writes.

Mar 21 2022
Cairo Review